Economics of car-cramming
ROB STOCK MONEY MATTERS firstname.lastname@example.org Four hundred yards from my driveway is the controversial Housing NZ property David Seymour and many of my neighbours are concerned about.
There will be 25 units on the site, which is conveniently located by shops and bus-routes.
One of the arguments raised against this social housing densification (Housing NZ already has places on the site) is that the street is already crammed with cars. Sure, and who’s fault is that? I live on a big section that’s been split five ways, and now has five houses on it.
When we moved in five years ago, there were ten cars on our wee slice of heaven. Now there’s 17. Our household (two adults, two school age children) only has one car.
We aren’t even in an outer lying suburb. There’s a regular flow of buses running into town. We are well served for amenities; Cinema, shops, tennis clubs (three in a kilometre and a half radius!), schools, cafes, all within walking distance.
Despite all that, we’re Shed a car, save a small fortune It could pay for your retirement Living near work is worth choosing cars begging the question: If we in our suburb won’t get out of cars, who in Auckland ever will?
Our local car cramming is densification at work.
Two of the five houses I mentioned are relatively new, five bedroom places which replaced smaller ones.
These days, every bedroom seems to mean a car in the drive, or parked on the street outside.
The economics of this are clear. Big houses equals big mortgage, which is much easier to pay with multiple earning adults, each of whom has a car.
Auckland has relatively low per capita car ownership in Kiwi city terms because public transport isn’t totally terrible, and some (like me) commute by bike.
For me the economics of selling one car and becoming a one-car family (two adults, two school age children) was compelling. For tiny to mediumsized cars cost (on average) between $7300 and $10,335 to run, according to the AA (Individual’s costs will vary).
Imagine that coming off the mortgage, or going into the KiwiSaver each year.
Research suggests most people don’t see the world like me. Why? People like cars because, well, they like cars, and for most, the alternative is public transport, which doesn’t give them four things they really value: predictable (not necessarily faster) journeys, a sense of freedom, privacy and comfort.
Once you actually have a car (most people’s cultural norm), and paid the lumpy annual fixed costs (insurance, rego, etc), the actual weekly costs of running it aren’t that high.
AA estimates the flexible costs (petrol, tyres, maintenance, etc) are about 17.8-25.6 cents a kilometre (not including parking).
Try getting anywhere on a bus for that.
So, economically speaking for many it’s a case of ‘‘have car, might as well drive it’’.
Technology will, I believe, one day save us all. E-bikes are getting cheaper, and autonomous cars and buses are coming.
Until then (assuming the costs of motoring don’t rise dramatically), the cramming of streets and driveways will continue until every possible gap into which a car can be squeezed is filled.